Black Jean Shorts

I’m placing this posts here on my pants blog because the garment is a pair of shorts made with the jean pattern Butterick 5403; however this post might better be located on one of my other sewing blogs because it’s really about Cover Stitching. I did nothing new with the pattern.  My fabric is a heavy black denim and was a joy to work with. Yes, a joy because it didn’t ravel; it didn’t slip or slid around on either the cutting table or at the machines. I inserted a new jeans needle at the sewing machine but both the cover stitch and serger machines kept their same size 12, ELX705 needles as used for previous garments.  Oh and both machines stitched beautifully.  The final garment fits as expected.  It’s a little stiff because the fabric is a 100% cotton that is both heavy and stiff.  I did give the fabric the denim treatment i.e. twice through the laundry on hottest hot with a can of Coke in the wash cycle.  The fabric is softer and I think it has quit bleeding but it is still a heavy and stiff fabric.

So this post is really about the cover stitching and a little embroidery. Let’s start with the embroidery.  This embroidery design was downloaded years ago and probably was free.  I don’t know the site URL.  At the time I didn’t worry about being able to give credit to the digitizer for their work. Now I can’t because I don’t know. It is named 3984.pes which leads me to believe I downloaded from EmbroideryDK but I”m not sure. (ETA EmbroideryDK has a new-to-me search feature. I found the design here.)

Pic of Pocket embroidery.

It is a single color design, no outline and a flat, satin-stitch, fill. The way this design stitches out is one of the reasons I need Embird.  I opened the design in Embird and clearly saw 2 nasty jump stitches.

Embird has a  sew out feature which I watched and I’m glad I did.  The stitch-out sequence would cross the jump stitches and thereby embed them into the embroidery.  When I was first embroidering I didn’t worry about jump stitches and tried to clip them all when the embroidery was totally finished. I found that it’s not always possible to cleanly clip and remove jump stitches when subsequent stitches have embedded the jump stitch into the design.  If I’d used my Ruby, she would automatically clip the jump stitches for me (after I enter the codes through Embird.) But I don’t have a small hoop for the Ruby.  From experience I also like to use the hoop which is just large enough to contain the design.  Again, I know because of disaster, that my embroidery comes out better when I use the smallest hoop.  The larger the hoop, the harder it is to keep the fabric stable. More and heavier stabilizer is required. My largest hoop (The Royal) came with an additional set of perimeter clips.  So it’s not just me.  The industry has recognized the larger the hoop the more effort at stabilization is required.  So I used my Janome MC9500 which has a 126 x110 mm hoop and as you can see from the picture is just slightly larger than the design I intended to use.  Since the Janome doesn’t clip jump stitches, I used Embird to selectively change colors at the jumps.

Now my machine would stop at the color change and ring a little bell.  I would stop whatever else I was doing, clip the stitch and restart the machine.  I wanted the embroidery to be the same yellow-bronze-gold as my jean thread.  I didn’t change thread colors. All I did was clip the thread at the knot of the previous “color” and touch the “Start” button to continue stitching.  While in Embird I also mirrored the design for the other pocket.

Then it was time to begin stitching and cover stitching.  I wanted to use my CS for top stitching the jeans. I’ve mentioned this to others.  Sometimes I feel guilty or remorseful for having purchased a machine with such limited capability.  I really didn’t have the room or $$$ for it. In fact when replaced my serger, I bought a serger (HV S21) that could also convert to a cover stitch machine.  My S21 even has holes so that binders and other accessories can be attached. But when sewing, I switch between machines continually. That means  serge a seam maybe two, then change needle positions, flip the serge/CS switch, remove 1 looper stitch thread, thread the other through a different path and finally add the table.  Then I cover stitch a seam maybe two and reverse that process. I can’t simply serge everything then cover stitch everything.  The construction process dictates when each of those seams need to be made.  I rearranged the sewing room and found the $$$ for the CS about 2 months after buying the S21 because I really love the cover stitch but switching back and forth was driving me nuts.  I’m not using binders or other attachments – yet- so my CS gets minimal use and I feel guilt/remorse for having invested the space and $$$.  It occurred to me that being able to use the CS for top stitching especially on jeans could be a winning solution.  I avoid or at least minimize top stitching on jeans again because you have to change the thread  every one or two seams.  It gets really annoying.  How great could it be to have a second machine all set up and ready to go for the top stitching?

GREAT, but has its issues too.  I didn’t have 3 matching spools of jean thread.  I’ve got 4 or 5 spools labeled jeans thread but the colors don’t match.  I opted to use my Bob N Serge:

Links to Nancy’s Notions.com

… and I decided to use the embroidery thread to fill 2 bobbins to be used for the needles.  I used black thread for the looper because my jeans are black.  I tried top stitching  on the pockets first. I changed the stitch length to 4 but made no other set up changes.  My CS stitched the straight lines beautifully. But I couldn’t do the corners to save my soul.  I had to load the embroidery thread on the SM to stitch back pockets, the zipper and the curved front pockets.

I was particularly bummed about the front pocket.  I knew the sharp angles of the pockets would be a challenge I might need more expertise to accomplish. But I thought the gentle curve of the front pocket would work.  Even with the clear foot, I could not stitch a short, even distance away from the curved edge.  Just couldn’t do it. I do have the stitch-in -the -ditch accessory, but that didn’t help here because it put one row on the pocket and the other off into the air. (Yes I had to try it out. It was a blond moment.) I haven’t seen but would like to find an edge guide for the CS machine. All the straight line, top stitching was divine.

There is enough of it to make my time winding bobbins worth while. I counted pocket and leg hems, yokes, side seams and belt loops.  I wasn’t totally satisfied with my belt loops but that was my fault.  I folded them 3 times and top stitched.  I like the effect well enough to look into the actual belt-loop making attachment.

It seemed only right to top stitch the zipper with two rows of stitching.

I thought about adding a quick fitting critique, but you can hardly see anything, so how about just a  front and back wearing photo?

Waiting for timer while watching NetFlix.

Fit wise, I’d still like shorts to be a little shorter and the hem looks angled (shorter on the inside).  It could be that this stiffer fabric requires a little more length in the crotch. Oh well, they feel comfortable and I’m not ripping out all that stitching.

My personal conclusion is that setting up the CS for top stitching was a good idea.  I used the double line here but I think that switching to chain-stitch and single line of top stitching could be ideal at other times. I also felt like I took another step towards mastering this machine.  I’m at the point that I can accurately place a straight line of cover stitching where ever I want it. I need to practice with curves. Even as I progressed I realized other spots on the foot I could use to help in keeping my stitches an even distance. The clear foot is a help, but I have problems seeing through it. I’d still love to have an edge stitching guide.  I’m hopeful that some of you will have suggestions for conquering the angles needed for pockets and sources of the belt-loop making thingy. Eventually I should feel confident enough to again work with my binders..

8 thoughts on “Black Jean Shorts”

  1. I have been looking into cover stitch machines – I think I would like one. But as you originally thought I am not sure I have the cash or space for one. Your post has made me quite envious – I am off to look at the possibilities again.
    Lovely embroidery on the shorts too. (Please don’t tell me about your embroidery machine!)

    1. Originally I thought it would have very limited uses. That’s why I bought the combination serger/cs Viking S21. As I worked with the S21, I discovered that the the CS solved knit hem issues and was really good for lingerie construction and elastic applications. But with such a hassle to switch between cs and serger modes, I knew I probably wouldn’t make much use of the cs mode. I bought the Janome CS because it has a good reputation and is supported by the store I shop at. I do lots of on-line buying, but when I think I may need future help, I go to a B&M establishment. The cs has been much easier to use than expected and I’m learning that it can have other applications. The decorative top stitching is a real plus for me because again, I dislike changing threads multiple times at the SM. I’ve learned that the CS is not restricted to knit fabrics, although it’s a great boon when sewing with knits. I haven’t mastered my binders yet and recently I learned the cs was great for gathering and pin tucks. I haven’t mastered this little machine, so stay tuned. But only you can decide if it’s worth the $$$ and space in your sewing room.

    1. Sending you cyber hugs. That particular information is not in my Janome manual. So glad that you found it for me. I’ve printed the page for future reference. Thank you again and again.

  2. This post is awesome! I love the tees and those denim shorts are very nice. This posts made me smile from the inside out! You see, I purchased the Elna 444 CS machine awhile back and quickly grew frustrated. Your post has inspired me to play with it some more. Having the stand alone CS isagreat idea if you’re constantly having to change between serge/cs.

    Mymain problem was trying to lock the stitches! I have to admit that I,be grown a little more impatient lately. Working on that too. Thank you for this timely post even though I’m a little late to the party! Lol

    1. Brenda
      sorry to have missed your comment. Thank you for taking the time to read and reply to me. On the CS, the starting stitches will lock on their own. You will find it difficult to impossible to rip out if you start at the beginning of the coverstitch seam. The best information I can give you for locking the stitches at the finish, is the site from which I myself learned. http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/2001/01/coverstitch-all-stuff.html
      You’ll find what you need under “How to End the Coverstitch.” She includes lots of pictures which I personally find most helpful.

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